Everyone talks about the dress (which doesn’t even have to be a dress), but hardly anyone talks about finding it. A lot of pressure is put on the day and the experience as a whole can be daunting and unfamiliar, which can leave you feeling less liike saying yes to the dress and more like saying no fkn way Jose…
We asked our wonderful directory members for their top tips for the whole wedding shopping experience, so you can learn from the pros and find the wedding outfit of your dreams without a meltdown to accompany it.
Research the shops you’ll like
Emily from megababe Ayrshire boutique Unbridaled‘s top tip is: “Do your research. Not every shop is for every bride, and trying on dresses that don’t fit or that are out of budget will quickly make a magical experience a complete drag! Overshopping will result in desensitising yourself to what an amazing dress feels like and will take the spark away from saying yes to the dress, so brides who’ve done their research shouldn’t need more than 3 appointments.”
Think about your priorities and no-gos
To do this, you need an idea of what you’re looking for before your appointment. Claire from Those Were The Days Bridal says the key is in the plan and prep: “Try to have a rough style and shape in mind that you like, while still keeping in mind how appropriate the dress is going to be for the venue! Whether it be a beach wedding or a wedding with a ceilidh dance to celebrate at the end of the night you need to consider trains, length and fabric of the dress as these are all things that could make it harder for you to move around in and might get in your way.”
Be open to stylists’ advice
However, this doesn’t mean to refuse to try on any others. It’s a difficult balance, as if you know you’ll hate it it’ll feel like wasted time, but Claire says “This can be very hard for any bride who has a vision of their dream dress, however, we feel if you are open to advice many brides will find that it can be extremely helpful in learning the styles they suit without even knowing they would suit those styles at first! This is especially true with vintage wedding dresses, as experts can help with the sizing and fit (which is so different from what we’re used to now.)
Don’t invite everyone
It’s basically universally agreed in bridal boutiques that less is more when it comes to people who accompany you to your appointment. At Those Were The Days Bridal, Claire suggests that brides invite no more than 3 guests with them so that they don’t feel overwhelmed. This way, the appointment can be focused on you and your dress, and not on managing your entourage: “Trying on dresses should be fun and stress free and in our experience, the opinions of a few trusted people always makes for a far more enjoyable shopping experience for our brides. We think it’s important that brides remember, it’s their day and it’s their dress, so they should first and foremost listen to what they think. This isn’t a day for other family members to re-live their weddings or to choose dresses they wish they had or would like now.” It’s also important to pick people whose opinions you trust and who’s advice you respect, whether that’s your mum, maid of honour, colleague or your fiancé.
If you’re worried you still won’t have escaped some sticky and upsetting changing room encounters, Emily suggests briefing them before the appointment about what you’re looking for from your outfit and the day as a whole. “Share your vision as much as possible. If you need to prove that a particular style is not for you, do that appointment before the one where you’re trying on the stuff you are actually interested in. This way, they can see how out of place and down right miserable you feel in a huge traditional ballgown. And if you know they won’t get onboard then don’t expect them to lie to you and pretend they love something they don’t – leave them at home and then let them see it on the big day in all its glory, where they can’t fail to fall in love with you as a bride and what you’re wearing. ”
Buy the right underwear and shoes first
Nude, seamfree, and 1-2 sizes BIGGER than you think you are is Emily’s checklist for the best bridal underwear. “Lumpy lace, bows and dark colours will show through,” she explains. “You will think it won’t matter but you’d be surprised how many brides have to make a second appointment to view in proper underwear because they just couldn’t imagine it!”
“It’s also really helpful if brides bring shoes with a similar heel height to that they think they’ll be wearing, as this can help them gauge the length of dresses etc,” Claire adds.
Understand the realities of backless wedding dresses
As both an ex bridal stylist and bra fitter (I am the one person in the intersection of this Venn diagram, I know), I echo Emily on this SO MUCH. “Errrrbody wants a backless dress. Backless dress means no support and no bra. Ultimately, if there is no way you can ever go braless then a backless dress isn’t for you, we can definitely sew in cups or stick on bras the best we can but it will never replicate a proper bra.”